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Zappos Tries No Bosses, No Managers; U.N. Urges End to South Sudan Violence; Palestinian Ambassador Killed in Explosion in Czech Republic; Formula One's Schumacher Critical But Stable; Marijuana Now Legal in Colorado; De Blasio Sworn In as NYC Mayor; New York's New Mayor; Silent Angels Watch Over Mexican City; Airport Security; Blast Rips Through Apartment Building

Aired January 1, 2014 - 12:30   ET



ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's a system called holacracy from the Greek word meaning "a whole that's part of a greater whole."

Holacracy does away with formal job titles and managers, the traditional hierarchy you'd have in a workplace, and makes employees responsible for several different roles that may overlap with coworkers.

Zappos is confirming they're full steam ahead on the system and it should be implemented by the end of 2014.

The goal here is to increase accountability. Instead of it being you and all your colleagues answering to your boss, you're all answering to one another.

There's actually a blog service, Medium, that's done this pretty successfully.

It will be interesting to see if this makes their customer service even better or maybe worse.

The company is consistently ranked an as one of the best when it comes to satisfying customers.

To make it work, it will be up to Zappos' workers to satisfy one another.

Back to you.


MALVEAUX: All right. Interesting experiment.

Champion racer Michael Schumacher remains in a medically induced coma today after his horrible skiing accident.

We're going to retrace the course he took in the French Alps that fateful day.



Here are stories we're following right now.

The United Nations is urging an end to the violence in South Sudan ahead of planned peace talks. Representatives from the warring parties, they are heading to neighboring Ethiopia for those talks.

South Sudan is the world's newest country. It formally split from Sudan two years ago after decades of conflict.

Well, the spiraling violence has now sparked a humanitarian crisis. About 180,000 people have been displaced in just two weeks of the conflict.

Meanwhile the U.N. mission to the country says it has seen a large number of bodies and evidence of other atrocities.

The Palestinian Authority ambassador to the Czech Republic has been killed in an explosion. Now, this happened inside his home in Prague.

An embassy spokesman says the blast went off as Ambassador Jamel al- Jamal was opening an office safe sealed for at least 30 years.

Now, the ambassador and his family had recently moved into the home. His wife was also injured in that explosion.

Police say they are investigating the possibility that al-Jamal himself was manipulating with explosives.

And champion race car driver Michael Schumacher remains in critical but stable condition today. This is after suffering severe head injuries in a skiing accident. He has been put into an artificially induced coma.

Now, Schumacher was skiing off the course in the French Alps when he hit a rock.

Christina Macfarlane shows us where this terrible accident happened.


CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was here on this ski slope on a sunny day in the resort of Meribel that Michael Schumacher set out with his friends and 14-year-old son for a ski run that would end in disaster when he fell and struck his head on a rock.

This is the area of off-piste where it's said Michael Schumacher fell just a few days ago. It's a small area just in between the two pistes here.

And if you look down, you can see rocks jutting out to the left and the right. And there's some fairly large holes just underneath the surface of the snow.

The first people to respond to the scene were the ski patrol who were located a short distance away in this pister's hut.

Francois Debroux helped direct the rescue operation.

FRANCOIS DEBROUX, SKI AREA MANAGER, MERIBEL: This was normal procedure for us, having a witness saying someone fell and seemed to have some blood on the head.

And, so, for us, we knew that it was a quick rescue to proceed.

This area is off-piste and is clearly seen as being off-piste and people understood it was off-piste as we -- as many slopes behind us where you can see the limits.

Maybe you can see there the limit between the slope and outside the slope is something which is -- which seems to be obvious for us and which seemed to be obvious for the skiers.

MACFARLANE: A local ski instructor tells us the snow conditions have been very uncertain in recent days.

AMANDO PAYAN, SKI INSTRUCTOR: Weird. Yes, it's not clear. It's not as usually when you have much snow because it's all white.

So you think there are many but no, there are not many actually. There are rocks everywhere.

MACFARLANE: So this whole area here is quite chopped up. It's icy in places and it's bumpy. It's not exactly the easiest ski ride.

I was keen to see for myself how the snow felt and, so, carefully retraced the route.

I've skied quite a lot of off-piste in my time but that was really quite difficult and tricky in places.

As I was skiing, the snow was deep and I could feel some of the rocks just under the snow.

As Michael Schumacher remains in intensive care, his injuries prove that no skier can be certain of the hidden dangers of skiing off- piste.

Christina Macfarlane, CNN, Meribel.


MALVEAUX: In Denver, people are lining up at marijuana stores. Today is the first day they can legally go shopping for weed at the stores.

Colorado is the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. You have to be 21 or older to buy. As many as 30 stores throughout Colorado will sell recreational marijuana. And he has promised to pursue sweeping liberal agenda for the nation's largest city. Right now, he is taking over city hall.

You're looking at live coverage of the inauguration of New York City's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD. Happy new year.

Right now, an inaugural ceremony under way for the New York mayor, the new mayor, Bill de Blasio. You're looking at live pictures from city hall.

The mayor's the first Democrat to head the city in 20 years, going to be sworn in by former President Bill Clinton. It is expected to happen shortly. We're going to bring that to you, live, of course.

The mayor, officially sworn outside his home in Brooklyn, that happened just after midnight, according to tradition.

That is Letitia James that you're looking at there. She's the number two, the public advocate, will also be sworn in, as well.

Want to bring in two of our players, Susan Candiotti and our political analyst John Avlon, join us from New York to talk about it.

And a really cute moment, we'll get into the politics, but a really cute moment that we saw. Scott Stringer, the comptroller, and his family, the two little kids, the wife and I think one of the kids kind of let loose and went rogue there for a moment.

It just goes to show, you try to stage these things, you plan these things as best you can. You never really know what's going to happen, huh?

Adorable. Just an adorable, adorable moment there.


MALVEAUX: John, let's talk be a little politics here. It's not surprising that we've got a lot of high powered people there, including the Clintons.

We know that de Blasio worked with both of them under Bill Clinton at the Housing and Urban Development Administration and, of course, he managed Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign.

Do you think we're going to see a Clinton influence, see or feel it under this administration, a de Blasio administration?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What's fascinating about this dynamic, Suzanne, is the fact that, while he is having Bill Clinton swear him in to give that imprimatur of authority, Bill de Blasio represents in the current Democratic Party national debate is actually to some extent a contradiction, a repudiation of "Clintonism." Bill Clinton was committed to that "third way," re-centering the Democratic Party and leading them back to power. Bill de Blasio is all about playing to the base of the Democratic Party, leading a progressive populist experiment in New York City.

And his inauguration, it really has all the trappings of a play-to- the-base exercise with the exception, the notable exception, of Bill Clinton offering that swearing in.

So there's a tension there, and some people who want to dust off the crystal ball and project onto 2016, the Clintons could benefit from association with Bill de Blasio in terms of shoring up their left flank.

But this is a new mayor who really is committed to playing to the base where Clinton was all about reaching across the aisle.

MALVEAUX: Susan, I want you to just in the conversation. I know you have a sense of what de Blasio actually might when he makes his speech.

What do we think is going to be the message today?

CANDIOTTI: Yeah, they released a few excerpts already, and again, it's to play up his message throughout the campaign, which was, we have a tale of two cities here, and as John was indicating, as well, that we need to try to equalize the playing field, especially economically, for every New Yorker.

And that may include raising taxes on the wealthy, for example, to pay for universal kindergarten for all children in the city, and to improve the life of those who are homeless and living in dilapidated shelters, for example.

And, so, one excerpt referring to that, the higher taxes, he said, quote, "We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories."

So, again, playing along those lines.

MALVEAUX: All right.

And I should also note, as well, we're looking at live pictures here. This is Letitia James. She's the public advocate, and she really is the one who's going to hold de Blasio's feet to the fire in terms of city services for those in New York and throughout the stat.

And she is actually taking the job that he had before he became mayor, so a very important role, because she is number two in the government there.

John, I want you to talk about expectations here, because we even heard last night from former Vermont Governor Howard Dean who was at the official swearing in at the house of the de Blasios.

And he said that he can't imagine that de Blasio can even keep his promises because the expectations of the liberal base are going to be so high.

AVLON: Yeah, I mean, when you promise a thousand flowers blooming, there's a limit to what you can actually deliver.

But make no mistake, that New York City mayoralty is a very powerful position. It is, however, held in check by the state legislature. So there's a limit to what he can do. But de Blasio really, from Leticia James to the head of the city council, has really moved in liberal allies who share his vision. So that increases not a check and a balance situation, but the chance that he can try to push forward his vision. And then we'll see what the results are.

You know, New York City just registered its lowest year in murders in our history, but homelessness is up 73 percent. And Bill de Blasio has so consciously presented himself as a contrast to Mayor Bloomberg, you know, and a businessman who ran as an Independent. Bill de Blasio's never worked outside of politics or government and somebody who's very much about playing to the base with all the middle class imagery and addressing that issue of inequality, which really is increasing in importance, not just in New York, but around the nation.

MALVEAUX: And, Susan, talk about that issue, because one of the issues that really caught fire in the campaign was the stop and frisk policy. They are very controversial. Those who support it say it is largely contributed to the fact that crime has gone down, but critics say, look, it unfairly has targeted Hispanics and African-Americans. You see the family, the multiracial family de Blasios. How does that change the conversation, do you think, among New Yorkers?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think everyone is waiting to see what kind of changes will be implemented by this new mayor, as well as his new police commissioner, William Brattin (ph), who used to also serve as police commissioner many years ago and now has been brought back to serve. And he has made it perfectly clear that he is going to revamp the stop and frisk policy. Might not totally eliminate it, but he is talking about change, have no doubt about that.

So, again, will this impact the crime rate in the city? No one wants to see that happen. But everyone wants to see change occur.

MALVEAUX: And, John, we're looking at these pictures of his beautiful family, this multi-racial family here. And, you know, Dante, his 16- year-old with the outsize afro getting the attention that he did campaigning for his dad, the daughter there Chiara, who just recently acknowledged that she was overcoming drug abuse and alcohol abuse and has been working to overcome her own difficulties. And really this very, from all videos and all aspects of their lives, you can see that they do seem to be a genuinely close family here.


MALVEAUX: What do they bring, do you think? Is it a change in tone? Is it a change in mood or enthusiasm from the city?

AVLON: An enormous change in tone. And you can't underestimate, Suzanne, the impact that Bill de Blasio's family had on him winning the Democratic primary. A now famous ad featuring his son Dante about stop and frisk really was the game-changer for Bill de Blasio because he presented himself as someone who could unite the city and is emblified (ph) by his own family and now his daughter's admission that she struggled with depression and drug abuse.

This is a family that is revolutionary. In fact it's the first -- we believe it's the first incident where a mayor, or certainly a governor or senator, a white mayor has an African-American wife and an interracial family. So it allowed him to present himself as a candidate of change who could unify the city. And so the symbolism of his family is so important in what makes Bill de Blasio a relatable, political figure to so many in New York right now.

MALVEAUX: All right, John, Susan, we'll get back to you. We're going to dip back into it as soon as he starts to speak as the ceremony progresses. Thanks again. Appreciate it, as always.

And we are also following this. Ahead, police officers with a special talent now for spotting crime and busting criminals. Now, they see things that most of us would never see. We're going to introduce you to the so-called silent angels guarding over a Mexican city.


MALVEAUX: Some police officers in Mexico, they are keeping their city safe without ever having to leave their desk. The officers are deaf, but their inability to hear actually gives them incredible and unique abilities for fighting crime. CNN's Rafael Romo shows us about the so- called silent angels in action.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): They can't hear nor speak, yet they serve and protect. It's a group of 20 police officers, all deaf mute, whose job is to keep an eye in the sky. They monitor 230 surveillance cameras around the clock in the Mexican city of Oaxaca (ph). For their protection, we cannot show their faces.

Through an interpreter, the officer tells us she likes her job and is proud of working here, watching over people and protecting her fellow citizens. People here call them "silent angels."

CYNTHIA CEPEDA VALDIVIESO, DIRECTOR, OAXACA EMERGENCY CENTER (through translator): We give them the opportunity to work in public security and we give ourselves the opportunity of taking advantage of the ability they have of reading people's lips, of detecting situations with suspicious people.

ROMO: Officials call this intuition a sixth sense. They say these deaf mute officers have a higher than normal ability to process visual information, a plus when it comes to police work. They have already helped catch thieves and people selling drugs.

IGNACIO VILLALOBOS, OAXACA STATE GOVERNMENT (through translator): That was the first thing that motivated us to hire deaf mute people as police officers. Once we started working with them, we also realized that they're also people who are very committed to the work they do.

ROMO: The state emergency center director says these officers were either unemployed or underemployed before joining the force.

VALDIVIESO: They had either seasonal or informal jobs. Now they're heads of households. They also have all the benefits our public security personnel receive. This is beyond the expectations they had.

ROMO: Oaxaca is the first Mexican city with this kind of program. It was launched last fall when 20 recruits were trained and hired.

ROMO (on camera): These agents monitor cameras just like the ones behind me and are considered officers. They make the same money as a recruit in the state police.

ROMO (voice-over): Their identity is protected because two surveillance officers were attacked after appearing in local media, but they say most people in Oaxaca show them appreciation and respect. Authorities in other Mexican states and abroad have approached Oaxaca with the intention of replicating the program in their communities. A program, officials say, is here to stay.


MALVEAUX: And Rafael Romo joins us.

So tell us a little bit more about these police officers. It's really fascinating when you think about what they're able to do.

ROMO: Well, number one, what the officials there noticed was that they're better than the average person at reading lips and so they're better at spotting situations where a crime might be about to be committed or they see people and they detect if they are acting suspiciously, body language. They're experts as the doing that. And it's working very good for the city of Oaxaca.

MALVEAUX: And how does that really promote the community? Because there are other with disabilities who are looking at these police officers and thinking, wow, this it really amazing what they're able to accomplish.

ROMO: This is part of a new wave in Mexico of integrating people with disabilities into society. You see that in Oaxaca, in Mexico City. If you go to the airport, you're going to see that the information officers are people in wheelchairs. And so it's step by step, but, you know, you are very glad to see that these people are being integrated. And some of these officers, before working there, had no job or were underemployed. So it's very good and they're very proud of actually making money, a contribution to society, and just being a part of the police department there.

MALVEAUX: Yes, love to see that.

ROMO: Yes. MALVEAUX: Happy new year to you.

ROMO: Yes, you too.

MALVEAUX: And you got to hate this, right, waiting in lines at the airport to get through security. Well now there is cutting edge computer technology that might hold the key to speeding up your trip. But is it as safe as human surveillance? Brian Todd, he's taking a look at that.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Scanning your iris to clear security or board your plane, facial recognition, fingerprinting at the boarding gate. It seems like science fiction but many call it smart security.

RAFI RON, NEW AGE SECURITY SOLUTIONS: I think that the biometric identification technology is extremely important as part of the security landscape now days.

TODD: Biometrics, an important word to remember for those of us who've grown tired of endless airport lines. Biometrics are now being tested at major airports in Europe. At London's Gatwick Airport, officials tested a program where they scanned passengers' irises instead of using boarding passes.

In the future, automated boarding gates could scan your ticket and passport. Unmanned exit lanes are also in the works. They use sensors and locks to make sure no one sneaks into a secure area through an exit. Baggage screening might be done automatically.

And at international arrival terminals, like this one near Washington, there's the global entry program for those who sign up. Machines scan fingerprints and passports for customs and immigration.

OFFICER BRYAN MCCANN, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION: The best thing about this program for an officer is it takes low risk travelers and it gets them through our process that much quicker, which would give me more time with high risk travelers.

TODD (on camera): One of the principal ideas of biometrics is to streamline the passenger experience, cut down on the lines. If I'm coming in from outside the United States and I'm in the global entry program, between swiping my passport, getting my picture taken, doing my fingerprinting, answering a few questions on this machine, then getting my bag and getting out, the process could only take a few minutes. What I avoid are the lines at regular customs.

TODD (voice-over): Ed Blum (ph) just flew in with his family from Panama.

ED BLUM, TRAVELER (ph): I travel frequently for business out of the country and I used to stand in line for an hour, hour and a half waiting to get through security. Now it takes about a minute, two minutes. TODD: But how much can safely be automated. Experts like former top Israeli airport security official Rafi Ron say there's no substitute for an alert human screener looking for suspicious body language.

RON: There's a lot that is involved in identifying suspicious behavior. Some of it is uncontrolled behavior as a result of the stress that terrorists are under while they're on a mission. That is something that machines have great difficult to detect.

TODD: Ron also points out that a machine won't detect a terrorist who has no previous criminal record and is unknown to the security system. People like many of the 9/11 hijackers. Terrorists like that could go legitimately through those biometric systems and not register a blip. So robots may not replace human screeners in the future, they may simply change how they do their jobs.

Brian Todd, CNN, at Dulles International Airport.


MALVEAUX: And some folks in Taiwan starting off the new year a little bit deflated. That is because, yes, this giant rubber duck, in their harbor, burst. It is now just a shell of its former self. This is the duck in happier times, of course, 60 feet tall. Well, the Dutch artist created it. It has been taking it and versions of it to different countries. Well, one witness said that she saw an eagle sinking its talons into the duck. It's not clear if that's why it deflated. But it's a deflated duck. Hopefully they'll get that back up.

All right, happy New Year. Thanks for watching AROUND THE WORLD. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.